I recently had the distinct pleasure of catching up with my good friend Gabriel D. Roberts, author of The Quest for Gnosis. He is making his first foray into fiction very soon with a new book called The Hermit.
BR: Gabe, one of the things I like so much about the way you deliver ideas is that it is both honest and raw while also “getting to the heart of things” in a very rapid manner. What were some of the initial things that inspired The Quest for Gnosis?
I wanted to make a fast track for the serious seeker who was tired of the dogmatic mire of big religion and I knew that I alone would fall short of delivering such a tome. It made sense to employ the minds of those very people who shaped and influenced my perspectives. This is a refinement of my own journey that I hope will make it easier for the neophyte to grow.
The intellectual topics in Quest certainly form a sort of daunting meta-commentary on internet culture and in a sense have almost kind of a 4-chan like sense of topic dissertation and meme-based playfulness. Occult mystery schools and astrotheology are equally at home with sci-fi fantasy tropes and topics such as metaphysical gnosis, psychedelics, etc. What inspired you to want to interview so many different guests and cover such a wide range of subject matter?
I think the world is full of mystery and while we do operate in a consensus reality, we all have very different methods of perception built up by our own experiences. For instance, if you talk to a girl who you have never met, but continue to get ideas about them based on conversations in writing and photos, you will build for yourself a version of that person. A straw man that may not accurately reflect the true person, but to you, it IS them. This is the way we are with everything. Allowing divergent perspectives to flourish within the pages of my book was key, because it breaks up that notion that we can fully know all things. Truth is paradoxical and context dependent, so to shatter any dogma is integral to spiritual growth. It can, however make it difficult for one to find cosmological footing, but I don’t think we are here in this life for comfort, per se.
Recently I have had co-coined the term entheodelic storytelling with Graham Hancock, Jeremy Johnson, and Rak Razam. You’ve mentioned to me recently that you are not sure where your quest leads, but I see that you may be developing a fictional piece yourself. Could you tell us a bit about what helped you to make this shift into a different form of storytelling? How do you think metaphysics, magick, and entheogens relate to storytelling? As Lewis Mehl-Madrona has said, everything is a story and therefore to designate it specifically only as fiction or art is also pretty limiting.
My next book, The Hermit, will be a smudged tale of what did and didn’t happen in the last year of my life. I will write it as fiction for a few reasons;
1. I want to protect those who are in the book from any implications in their professional lives.
2. I want to secure the love and trust of those who have invested in my personal life.
3. I want to write things, not as they may have appeared in meatspace, but as I think they might have looked if we were to perceive them through multiple dimensional frames.
The bottom line is that people are flooded with shitty information and good information and just want to hear a good story. I can say everything I need to say in the form of a story that will be written as fiction, but in many ways will be more true to what really occurred than if I were to write it biographically. “The shadows being cast upon the walls from his vampyric state told the tale of a tortured and twisted mind as they danced differently than the man who stood before me.”
How do you think the idea of McKenna’s “hyperspace” where all time and space are already one, factor into the creation of the story. In a sense it seems that the story is already written and latent in the akashic records, and by writing it we are merely uncovering it. Dr. Lew Gram, Jeremy Johnson, and Erik Davis get into this with Philip K. Dick’s “high weirdness” precognition as well.
I see time as a stack of Pringles; each life is a layer within the same force. So as PKD experienced, we may find a lapse in which we are multiple places at once. We are legion in this way and possible many other ways, so it makes sense that people can get really mixed up in this kind of mental clusterfuck. It is my personal belief that we straddle unlimited paradoxes; we have already lived and died many times over, the story is already done and we are already one with our final goal and then again, not even begun yet. In the words of Dr. Aaron Cheak, “The arrow has already struck the target, this is merely a matter of pulling back the bowstring and letting go.”
Has your stance on gnosis changed since you wrote the book?
For one thing, I am absolutely humbled by the contributions of those I interviewed in the book. I feel like I crammed 20 lifetimes of wisdom into one book and in many ways I did. My knowledge, or opinion on the nature of Gnosis has opened in layers, much like an explanation for a child is far less complex than an explanation offered to an adult. It has been a sharpening of perception a creation of new colors, a broader spectrum of light. I knew before, but now I know more.
You say in a previous interview with Jeremy D. Johnson that gnosis is something we have the day we are born. This goes back to what Plato said about all knowledge being a spiritual remembrance. But isn’t it a bit odd that we have to re-learn our connections with the spirits as we experience what David Lynch has said “a narrowing of the imagination” as we become adults? I’ve always found your approach or vibe especially playful, and in a way I appreciate you haven’t forgotten the importance of the inner child in your work.
We are all faking it; we never make it. Making it, whatever IT may mean to us is part of the illusory nature of things. So we can react to this by crying about it, denying, or having a laugh. I prefer laughter. And yes, we do experience a kind of anamnesis in our life, in my opinion. This to me explains why so many things that should be foreign seem so familiar at times.
Another interesting aspect about Quest is that you are at home equally with the psychedelic and the magical community. I have found that there is still some aversion to so called “occultism” and integrating the dark aspects with the light in some of what I perceive as the New Age community gathered around psychedelics. Do you see these two threads as interconnecting, if so, how?
Fear is the fruit of ignorance. If you educate yourself, you find that many things that were once too scary to even countenance are actually beneficial and enlightening. I don’t push anyone to anything they don’t want to do, but I think living in fear of a boogeyman from an ontological standpoint is archaic in all the wrong ways. My advice would be that if you fear something, learn all you can about it and you’ll be sure to make major discoveries about the subject and about yourself. For instance, Christians fear magick, but don’t know that western magick is BUILT upon Hebrew mysticism. Psychedelics are another feared thing and yet we see that there is ample evidence to support the idea that they CAUSED the first religious experiences. Religion in many ways is somebody else’s trip report. Eliminate the fear through education, it doesn’t mean you have to go out and get a magick wand, or eat a handful of shrooms, but at least don’t be a dummy. Magick and psychedelics are as old as any human experience, they are a birthright and a key to an enlightened future free of fear and judgment.
Dr. Aaron Cheak mentions Jean Gebser and the evolution of consciousness in this book. Do you see our evolution intertwined with the ability to recognize some of the core spiritual truths associated with with magick and psychedelics?
Yes, and Gebser touches upon this in his book, The Ever Present Origin. There are many methods of achieving what is needed and psychedelics and the methods of practicing magick are powerfully transformative, but all require education and grounded personal work. There is no substitute for hard work and a sense of reverence. We will not grow until we refuse to accept a half-assed approach to spirituality, or a flippant and uneducated perspective on magick and psychedelics.
One of the things I like about the discussion of psychedelic culture you have with Jeremy D. Johnson in Quest is that he takes a more contemplative, conservative approach to the subject matter. He doesn’t necessarily deify psychedelic medicine, and I’ve seen that can happen with people who just want to pop a tab to attempt to reach insta-enlightenment. Despite this, do you think that, as Thomas B Roberts has argued recently, there is some correlation to psychedelics and mystical states? If so, what are ways in which scholarship might help to be a bit more careful around this tricky subject matter.
I have no doubt in my mind that mystical states and psychedelics go hand in hand, but as you have described, Jeremy Johnson takes a more contemplative approach rather than ‘pill popping’ and this is a demonstration of what I’ve described in answer to previous questions here. We are unfolding our perception. Citing Gebser again, he described a time in our early written history where the sea was described as wine red and the sky as having the same color as the earth. This is befuddling to us now, but we see across literature from around the world, there used to be no mention of the sky, as if it never crossed a human mind to look up. Somehow our reality has tightened and sharpened, just as I described my own growth in the understanding of Gnosis. So what we have is a challenge to take responsibility for what we see, we can change what we see by choosing to change the way our mind works. We can force ourselves to do much more than that.
For example: Imagine an old lady telling you that she just knit a scarf for you. Did you hear a voice? Did it sound like an old lady? Was it your voice? Is there an old lady inside of you? This is a demonstration of the concept that we create things and don’t even realize it. We create things internally and externally; we even generate those false ideas of how people see us and how we actually are. As complex beings, the only way to master these befuddling concepts is through finding a contemplative practice that works for us. I offer divergent ideas in The Quest For Gnosis to provide 20 different paths others could pursue if it resonates with them. Gnosis is a personal path and a choice, but it requires experience, so that must be vigorously sought after.
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